This week, Oak Bay released a previously confidential letter from October 2019 that was sent to the Capital Regional Hospital District over concerns the CRHD would sell the soon-to-be-vacant Oak Bay Lodge as surplus land.
It showed that Oak Bay council has been working for over a year with the CRHD to support the exploration of a potential multi-use partnership on the Oak Bay Lodge land, which is 3.9 acres. A potential partnership could involve CRHD, Island Health, B.C. Housing and the province. The CRHD has also not indicated publicly that it is planning to sell the building.
What makes it challenging is that Murdoch can’t speak much to the process which is happening mostly in-camera.
“All I can say is we are happy with the progress so far,” Murdoch said.
|The District of Oak Bay council issued a news release on July 21 to clarify a desire not to risk slowing down the repurposing of the Oak Bay Lodge with a temporary use. This comes in response to a July 8 CRD motion to explore using the Oak Bay Lodge as temporary housing for the region’s unhoused or as auxiliary hospital beds in case of a surge in COVID-19 cases. (Black Press Media File Photo)
The 2019 letter and July 21 news release clarify Oak Bay’s intentions for the facility date back 18 months. But the conversation has now shifted, Murdoch said, since the July 8 motion at CRD to explore using the Oak Bay Lodge as temporary housing for the region’s unhoused, or as auxiliary hospital beds in case of a surge in COVID-19 cases. Now Oak Bay Lodge’s 235 units are being mentioned as temporary housing for the unhoused at a time when the province has bought multiple motels to house people during the COVID-19 crisis, Murdoch noted.
“CRHD is there to serve the purposes of health care, to provide land for the Island Health,” Murdoch said. “They have to use it for hospital use, or they can sell it for market value and put the money to health services.
B.C. Assessment valued the total value of the land buildings at $30.7 million.
The Lodge’s tenants are in the process of relocating to The Summit residence at Blanshard and Hillside. The 50-year-old Lodge building is 15 years past its expected life and will need to be assessed, Murdoch said.
The concern on Oak Bay council is that one of these temporary uses could derail the process of redevelopment.
“We are far better off implementing much-needed permanent services than temporary usage,” Murdoch added.
At this time there’s no major Island Health project that would use all 3.9 acres, though there are some services that wouldn’t take up the whole site, Murdoch said.
The last time Oak Bay had a plot of land anywhere this big was Bee Street, where Marion Village and Shannon Oaks now stand. Marrion Village has 50 assisted living suites and 119 subsidized senior housing suites and Shannon Oaks has 101 private suites for independent senior living.